Sportsperson of the Year: Jim DuHamel By Ryan Wallace Dec 29, 2005, Calaveras Enterprise
Jim DuHamel had a vision of what youth athletic programs should be about early in his life, and from then on he’s never strayed from those essential principles.
DuHamel developed his love of sports while playing baseball, basketball, and football year-round in the Midwest. His love of sports continued as he moved to California and began playing high school and college athletics.
It was during those years that he began to really comprehend the team concept and how working together as one unit drives the success of a team.
“I learned the skills, how to workout and the practice ethics, while playing baseball at Santa Barbara,” DuHamel said. “You don’t experience that stuff in high school and it gave me a vision of how a program should be run.”
In just one year of playing on the freshman baseball team at UC Santa Barbara, DuHamel knew that developing youth sports teams was his calling. It didn’t take long for him to find success.
DuHamel went back to the Bay Area, where his family was living, and helped his parents Pearl and Raymond DuHamel, coach his younger sisters’ youth softball teams.
In just two years, that team transformed from a group of developing players into a second-place team at a national tournament.
“I just used the skills and drills I picked up in college and that was kind of a springboard for me,” DuHamel said.
DuHamel went on to coach everything from soccer to basketball and recently has been influential in developing a successful traveling youth softball program over the last eight years in Calaveras County.
It’s those efforts and his willingness to give of himself to all the youth sports programs throughout the county that has earned DuHamel the 2005 Calaveras Enterprise Sportsperson of the Year award.
DuHamel, who runs his own dental practice in Valley Springs, was the boys high school soccer coach at Calaveras High from 1990-94, and has served as coach or sponsor for various youth softball and soccer teams, as well as teams in the adult softball and basketball leagues. He also coached his sons Derek and Andrew DuHamel in several sports as they grew up.
He’s also actively played with his younger brother Ron DuHamel in the Calaveras County Men’s Softball League.
He lives on his ranch on Jesus Maria Road with his wife Kim DuHamel and her kids n Shelby Golston, 18, Lindsey Golston, 17, Samantha Golston, 13, and Brian Golston, 10. Shelby is a freshman at UC Santa Barbara.
DuHamel has been a fixture in helping youth sports since he arrived in Calaveras County. After meeting Kim and her kids he upped his involvement with youth programs here.
One of the first ventures he undertook after meeting Kim and her kids was to develop a traveling youth softball program, which he did in 1998. DuHamel credits the genesis of the team to his wife.
“She puts in more hours and has made it an organized family thing,” DuHamel said. “I’m the one that’s just out there.”
The team was called the Calaveras Sliders, and in the first year he got a group of 13 girls together and played in one tournament. Some of the girls on that first team were Shelby Golston, Amanda Busi, Heather Benton and Katie Walters.
“We started working with them when they were 10-years-old, and we entered one tournament and it turned out to be a 12-and-under tournament,” he said.
“We were so naive that we showed up without registration or insurance forms,” DuHamel said. We didn’t know.”
The next year, the girls once again took their licks going 1-25. But for DuHamel, the wins didn’t matter because he knew at this age it was important to develop the athlete’s skills and instill the concept of team play.
“We stuck to our principles,” he said. “Our whole philosophy is to build self-esteem and teach skills n those are the two most important things. If you have kids developing their own skills and feeling good about it, then good things will happen.”
It’s those same ideals that DuHamel brought to the recreational clinics and leagues in the area, and it’s what he continues to practice.
Good things eventually did happen as DuHamel steadily brought coaches into the Sliders system that had similar goals and approaches to creating a successful program.
In each of the last four years, the Sliders have sent a team in either the 14-and-under division or 16-and-under division to the national tournament. And in 2002, the team finished fifth at a national tournament in New Mexico.
The accomplishment is even more stunning when you take into account how small a population the Calaveras Sliders are drawing from compared to the majority of their opponents.
“We kept working the basic skills and it wasn’t like we could choose from 400 kids, we barely had enough kids to talk into playing for a summer.”
Last summer, the Sliders program was up to 60 kids competing on five teams.
“Our goal was to create a program not just for our kids, but for any kid,” DuHamel said. “We want to give a training program and an achievement program so any kid in the county can try to meet their potential.”
Dominic Vasile is one of the coaches for the 16-and-under Sliders team that went to Roseville last summer to compete in the nationals.
Vasile feels having someone like DuHamel to feed off of is not only beneficial for the kids, but the coaches as well.
“Jim is the most patient coach I’ve ever seen,” Vasile said. “He can coach at every level from 6 on up and he’s one of the most knowledgeable sports guys that I know. I try to get better by learning from Jim DuHamel and I’m very glad to be working with someone like him.”
Vasile said sharing the same vision with all the coaches is definitely beneficial.
“We’ve all preached the same thing from day one,” Vasile said. “You have kids that want to compete and we are able to let them do just that. Every kid that wants to play, we put them on the field. We strive to do that.
“Every team we’ve had, he’s had a finger in. It’s always been about teamwork with him and it’s worked.”
DuHamel was born in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. and lived there until he was 9. He and his family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they lived until he was 14, when they moved to Fullerton. He attended Sunny Hills High from 1962-65 and then attended UC Santa Barbara from 1965-69.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in zoology, he applied and was accepted to the Northwestern University dental school in Chicago. He attended school there from 1969-73, and moved back to Sunnyvale to run his own practice.
DuHamel moved to Calaveras County in 1986 with his family. A triggering factor in the move was to keep a commitment to his daughter Markley, who passed away at the age of 11 from spinal cancer.
With no medical cures, DuHamel and his family looked toward alternative medicines for hope. One method called for use of organic vegetables and food. Unfortunately in 1984, the organic food scene was not booming.
After her death that year, he moved to Calaveras County and began organic farming along with former county assessor Randy Metzger. He fell in love with the community and decided to permanently live here. After a divorce, he met Kim in 1996.
DuHamel said he always felt a calling to give back and through sports he was able to do so.
“It’s just the giving back thing,” he said, “because I’ve been so fortunate in my life in the things I’ve been given and the opportunities I’ve had.
“It can be very hard to communicate with children and get each other to have common goals. Usually the interests aren’t the same. But with sports you can do that. You have something in common and you can work together on it.”
DuHamel employs the team concept not only when he’s coaching, but in his personal and business life.
“It all revolves around team principles and communication,” he said.
DuHamel said the most rewarding part of all the volunteering and coaching he’s done is seeing kids achieve, pure and simply.
“Watching kids do something that they didn’t think they could do just brings tears to your eyes,” he said.
“That’s the biggest thing.”
Kim DuHamel has seen first hand how caring her husband is, and believes that through sports he’s found a way that he can really reach out and help.
“He genuinely cares about kids and sharing sports is a great avenue for him,” Kim DuHamel said. “He truly cares about every single child.”
Kim said she’s never had a problem with Jim lending a hand to a sports team because she’s usually right there with him.
Jim DuHamel doesn’t have any intentions of slowing down either. He helped form a traveling youth soccer team last summer and would like to see a recreation department established in the county that would continue to cultivate youth sports with new facilities and even more opportunities.
With all that he does, it may appear that he’s constantly running on empty, but in reality it’s just the opposite. He’s just as excited about coaching as he was as a young man out of college.
“If you’re doing things you believe in and feel good about it, then it’s not stressful,” he said. “It’s when you’re dealing with things that you don’t believe in that things become stressful.”
Hometown: Mokelumne Hill
High School: Sunny Hills High School (Fullerton)
College: UC Santa Barbara, Northwestern University
Notable: Moved to Calaveras County in 1986 and began an organic farm on his ranch.